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Crowd embarrasses South Africa’s President at Mugabe’s funeral

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It was all jeers for President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa yesterday in Harare, Zimbabwe, when he joined other African leaders to pay tribute to Zimbabwe’s founding president, Robert Mugabe.

The former Zimbabwean President had died on September 6, 2019 at Gleneagles Hospital, Singapore.

The crowd booed him as he was introduced by the master of ceremony at the funeral held at the National Sports Stadium.

The boos were in reaction to the recent xenophobic attacks by South Africans on fellow Africans living in their country, including Nigerians and Zimbabweans.

The MC pleaded with the stadium crowd to let Ramaphosa speak.

He apologized for the attacks in which 12 people were officially confirmed dead and many others maimed or displaced.

More than 10 African leaders and several former presidents attended the service and viewing of the body of Mugabe, who died penultimate week in Singapore aged 95.

Nigeria was represented at the event by Vice President Yemi Oshinbajo.

Ramaphosa said: “I like to say to the people of Zimbabwe that in the last two weeks, we as South Africans have been going through challenging period. We have had acts of violence erupting in some parts of our country and some of which was directed at our brothers in other African countries.

“This has led to the deaths of some people. Some of whom are nationals of other countries and majority are from South Africa. I stand before you as a fellow African to express my regrets and to apologize for what has happened in our country.

“What has happened in South Africa goes against the principles of the unity of the African people that President Mugabe, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Thambo and leaders of our continent stood for.

“I stand before you, fellow Zimbabweans, fellow Africans to say that we are working very hard to encourage all our people in South Africa to embrace people from all other African countries.

“Your Excellencies, I will like to thank you for the support that you have offered us during this difficult time. I would like to say this now that South Africans are not xenophobic and are not against nationals from other African countries.

“We welcome people from other African countries and we are going to work very hard that will encourage and promote social cohesion of all the people of South Africa working side by side with people from other part of our continent. This we shall do, because we want to embrace the spirit of unity that President Mugabe worked for throughout his life.”

Ramaphosa described Mugabe as a founding father of modern day Zimbabwe.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta described Mugabe as “a great icon of African liberation” and “a visionary leader and relentless champion of African dignity.”

The Zimbabwean authorities said late on Friday that the former president’s burial will be postponed until the building of a new resting place at the national Heroes’ Acre Monument.

It is the latest turn in a dramatic wrangle between Mugabe’s family and President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a once-trusted deputy who helped oust Mugabe from power.

Mnangagwa presided over yesterday’s ceremony, attended by Mugabe’s widow Grace, who wore a black veil.

“A giant tree of Africa has fallen,” said Mnangagwa, who hailed Mugabe as “a bold, steadfast revolutionary.”

He praised Mugabe for seizing land from white farmers.

“To him, this was the grievance of all grievances of our people,” Mnangagwa said.

“The land has now been reunited with the people and the people have been reunited with the land.”

He asked the West to remove sanctions imposed during Mugabe’s era.

“Go Well Our Revolutionary Icon” and “Farewell Gallant Son of the Soil” were among the banners praising Mugabe, who led the bitter guerrilla war to end white-minority rule in the country then known as Rhodesia. Mugabe was Zimbabwe’s first leader and ruled the country from 1980 for 37 years, from years of prosperity to economic ruin and repression.

His legacy of black emancipation will live long in hearts of

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